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Heavy alcohol drinking and subclinical echocardiographic abnormalities of structure and function

Open Heart. 2021. Vol. 8. No. 1.
Iakunchykova, O., Schirmer, H., Leong, D., Malyutina, S., Ryabikov, A., Averina, M., Leon D. A.

Objective The aim of the study is to assess changes
in heart structure and function associated with heavy
alcohol use by comparing echocardiographic indices in a
sample to those in patients admitted to
an inpatient facility with severe alcohol problems.
Methods and results We used data from the Know
Your Heart study (2015–2017) which is a cross-sectional
study that recruited 2479 participants aged 35–69 years
from the general population of the city of Arkhangelsk in
Northwest Russia and 278 patients from the Arkhangelsk
Regional Psychiatric Hospital with a primary diagnosis
related to chronic alcohol use (narcology clinic subsample).
The drinking patterns of the population-based
were characterised in detail. We used regression models
controlling for age, sex, smoking, education and waist to
hip ratio to evaluate the differences in echocardiographic
indices in participants with different drinking patterns.
The means of left ventricular end-diastolic
and indexed left atrial systolic diameter were increased
among heavy drinkers (narcology clinic subsample), while
mean left ventricular ejection fraction was decreased in
this group compared with the population-based
In contrast, the harmful and hazardous drinkers in the
sample did not differ from non-problem
drinkers with respect to echocardiographic indices of
systolic and diastolic function.
Conclusions Extremely heavy drinking is associated with
a specific set of structural and functional abnormalities of
the heart that may be regarded as precursors of alcohol-related
dilated cardiomyopathy.